In the Presence of All Peoples

In verses 22-24 of Luke chapter 2, we learn that Mary and Joseph have brought Jesus to Jerusalem to make an offering once the days of her purification following childbirth are complete. This is in accord with the Law of Moses given in Leviticus 12:3-8, and it means that it was 40 days after his birth. The offering is to be a lamb and a turtle-dove or pigeon unless she cannot afford a lamb, in which case it would be two turtle-doves or two pigeons. Since Joseph was not a man with much wealth, the offering would be the latter.

St Joseph with the Infant Jesus (c. 1635), at ...

St Joseph with the Infant Jesus (c. 1635), at the Hermitage, in St. Petersburg. Oil on canvas, 126 x 101 cm. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Beginning in verse 25, we are told of a righteous and devout man who was there that was filled with the Holy Spirit. The text says that he was waiting for”the consolation of Israel,” which is to say that he was waiting for God to send the Messiah to redeem His people. In fact, verse 26 says that the Holy Spirit had revealed that he would see the Christ in his lifetime. There are some scholars (particularly Dr. John Lightfoot) that believed this Simeon was the son of a great philosopher and doctor of that day, Hillel, and that Simeon was also president of the Sanhedrin. If true, this would mean that he was also the father of Gamaliel, who Saul of Tarsus studied under. All very interesting, and we are sure, quite educated calculations, but still historically unsubstantiated.

As he took the child in his arms, he offered his blessing to God, saying “…that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.”  Filled with the Holy Spirit, Simeon already knew what many would not figure out until after Jesus’ death and resurrection – that he had come for the Gentiles as well. He then blessed the parents, and addressed Mary with some prophecy in verses 34-35 that points to the rise of many ordinary men to be His apostles, the fall of unbelievers such as Annas and Caiaphas, and a darker prophecy of Mary’s heartbreaking witness of her son’s death (“a sword will pierce through your own soul”).

In verses 36-38, we are told of a prophetess named Anna, who was “advanced in years.” The words “did not depart from the temple” simply refer to the fact that despite her age, she did not forsake her temple duties. Verse 38 says of her: “and coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.” “To speak of him” refers to Jesus, not God, as is obvious from the context.

So we can deduce from these two accounts, that a number of people were being told of the fact that this child was the long-awaited Messiah.

(This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from Luke here
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from 1 Chronicles here

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.

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A Savior, Who Is Christ the Lord

The Birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ

The Birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Verse 8 of Luke chapter 2 picks up with the shepherds who are out in their field at night. Depending on the version you read, they were in the same region as Mary and Joseph or in the same country. The translation has the same effect in either case – so that we are not sure exactly how far away they are, but certainly not in a separate country. When the angel of the Lord appeared to them, “the glory of the Lord shone around them and they were filled with fear.” Any time that term is used, it is accompanied by great light – whatever else it means. In this case, certainly not as bright as what Paul (Saul) encountered on the road to Damascus (Acts 9), but in a dark field in a time when there were no distant city lights, it would be quite substantial and unnerving.

Gabriel making the Annunciation to the Virgin ...

Gabriel making the Annunciation to the Virgin Mary. Painting by El Greco, 1575 (Museo del Prado, Madrid). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Calming them, the angel told them of the good news of the birth in the city of David of “a Savior, who is Christ the Lord,” and old them how they would know him when they went to see. The sudden appearance with the angel of “a multitude of the heavenly host”  raises the question of what makes up a heavenly host. Generally, a “host” is a military term, where the collective group is associated with fighting a battle or guarding something. In the case of the Lord, they are associated as being at His side, praising Him, and ready to do his bidding (Psalm 103:21, Daniel 7:10). And verse 15 gives us the answer. After they finished praising the Lord Jesus, the verse tells us that the “angels” went away into heaven. Since only one angel had appeared before the heavenly host came, that tells us what sort of multitude they were.

When they arrived and saw Jesus, verse 17 says they “made known” what had been told to them by the angel, which created an understandable stir. But Mary, it said, treasured all of these things in her heart – no doubt recalling the visit from the angel Gabriel before the conception. And then on the eighth day, he was circumcised according to the Law of Moses and given the name Jesus, just as Gabriel had told her. And just like that, the will of God that He made known to the serpent way back in Genesis 3:15 was brought to fruition:

I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and her offspring

(This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from Luke here
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from 1 Chronicles here

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.

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Luke 2 – The Birth of Jesus Christ

Verses 1-20 deal with the miraculous birth of Jesus.   The circumstances of His birth, the lack of great wealth on the part of His parents, and even the people who this scripture places with Him all point to a King that was not just for the favored few.

The Roman emperor Caesar Augustus was born about 62 BC, and reigned from about 32 BC until his death in about 14 AD.  Joseph and Mary had gone to Bethlehem (the city of David, of whose lineage Joseph was descended) from Nazareth because of a decree by Caesar Augustus that all subjects of the Roman Empire must be registered for the purpose of taxation.    Of course, had there been no such decree, something else would have brought them there anyway because God’s prophets had already told us that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem (see Micah 5:2).  Verse 7 says that Mary “gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.”  Those were the signs that the angel of the Lord, who appeared to some shepherds, told them to look for when they went to see for themselves (verses 8-13).

Stone manger from Bible times, perhaps similar to the one that cradled the baby Jesus in Bethlehem. The manger held food for animals.

At the end of eight days, he was circumcised (according to God’s commandment to Abraham in Genesis 17:12); and named Jesus – just as Mary had been told before He was conceived (Luke 1:31-32).  Verse 22 would be 33 days later in which they would have journeyed to Jerusalem (Leviticus 12:3-8) to make their sacrifice according to the Law given to Moses.  Joseph and Mary would not have the means to offer a lamb, but would obey the Law of the Lord.  We do not know anything else about the man Simeon in verses 25-35.  The scripture says that the Holy Spirit had revealed to him that he would see the Christ before he died, so he had obviously found favor with God.  As he held the savior in his arms, his words affirm that verse 10’s reference to “all people” means Jews and Gentiles alike as, in verse 32, he calls Jesus “a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.”  Verses 36-38 recount more of God’s revelations about Jesus to his humblest of servants.  The family then returned to Nazareth, where verse 40 tells us that Jesus grew in wisdom and “the favor of God was upon him.”

Naturally, as verse 41 says, his parents returned to Jerusalem every year to observe the Feast of the Passover.  On the occasion of verse 42, he was 12 years old.  This may be about 7 AD, as the best estimates (contrary to what many people might assume), are that He was born about 5 BC.   It seems more than a bit strange to us that Joseph and Mary did not notice he had remained behind in Jerusalem until they well on their way back to Nazareth (verses 43-44), but we must remember that such a journey during an important festival would have had them traveling with a large group of family and friends that trusted and cared for one another.  When they returned to Jerusalem to search for Him, they finally found Him in the Temple – and as verses 46-47 say, amazing the teachers there.  He demonstrates that He already knows He is the Son of God, as He says in verse 49 “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Luke 1 – The Birth of John the Baptist

Luke, who also wrote the Book Acts, addressed this book specifically to Theophilus, who was likely a government official (note the way that he refers to him in verse 3).   As it opens, it has been 400 years since Malachi prophesied.  John the Baptist’s father, Zechariah, was a priest.  In those days, the priests were separated in divisions, each of which served for a week – except during times of major feasts, such as Passover or the Feast of Tabernacles.    Zechariah was chosen by lot to serve in the Temple (verses 8-9).  Zechariah (as he and his wife Elizabeth were childless and advanced in years) had no doubt prayed often for a child.  An angel of the Lord appeared to him and told him they would have a son, and that his name would be John.  He was not to drink wine or strong drink, and would be filled with the Holy Spirit “even from his mother’s womb” (indicating he would then already be a human person), and would “make ready for the Lord” (verses 11-17).  Also, jumping ahead to (verses 41-44), upon Mary’s visit, Elizabeth’s baby leaped for joy in her womb.

Birth of St. John the Baptist, depicting Zecha...

Birth of St. John the Baptist, depicting Zechariah writing, “His name is John”. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Both as a rebuke for his unbelief, as well as the sign he asked for, the angel Gabriel told Zechariah that he would be unable speak until his son was born (verses 18-23), and  Elizabeth did conceive.  The “sixth month” in verse 26 refers to the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy.  At this time, the Angel Gabriel appeared to a virgin (Mary), who was pledged to be married to Joseph, who was of the house of David (verses 26-27).  The reference to Nazareth being a city of Galilee is confirmation that Luke’s intended audience was unfamiliar with the territory.  Mary is told that she would have a son and name him Jesus, that God would give him the throne of his father, David, and that “he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end” (verses 28-33). He also tells her of her relative, Elizabeth’s pregnancy.  Verses 46-55 are Mary’s praise to the Lord, and are known as Mary’s song.

When Elizabeth bore her child, the neighbors expected them to name him Zechariah after his father, but she insisted that he would be called John.  Not satisfied, they tried to get Zechariah to give them a sign (since he still could not speak).  He wrote on a tablet that “his name is John,” and immediately he could speak again – because then all that the angel of the Lord had said to him previously had come to pass.  Verses 65-66 indicate that the word of this miraculous birth and Zechariah’s change became famous very quickly.  Zechariah’s prophecy in verses 67-79 verify that the fulfillment of God’s promise to his people through Abraham – and the Messianic age – had indeed begun!

Side note: Excavations at Nazareth by archaeologists have located tombs, olive presses and other indications that it was a small agricultural community.  The most interesting discovery of the past few years is that of a first-century house there.  A very good article on this discovery can be found at this article at BiblePlaces.com.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.